Lu, when you leave the magical red gates of Los Encinos, you will embark on a brand new adventure. With a quick hop and skip, you will find yourself at Campbell Hall, a prestigious academic private school. Your 120-person class will overwhelm you. But, nonetheless, you’ll still manage to make your stamp as you climb through the ranks of middle school/high school. One of the unique selling points of your future alma mater (outside of going to school with Mary Kate & Ashley) will be chapel.
As a Jew with mission to attend a great university, the prospect of chapel did not deter you. In fact, the school bolstered a diverse religious portfolio. You were one of many Jews signing up for the opportunity. These chapel services, a bi-weekly deprave from the stresses of your day, provided an opportunity for you to sit with your friends, gossip about the weekend and from time-to-time listen to the service. These services, led by our Chaplian covered all religions. Rather then inspecting passages from the Bible (which happened on occasion), each sermon was carefully crafted to cover a variety of topics–from stress management to guest speakers sharing stories/customs from other faiths ( my personal favorite was OBVIOUSLY the beat boxing competition), chapel covered it all. Although, it sounds serious in tone, it was a time to let go. It offered time to reflect but also a time to have fun. One of your favorite high school memories is when a group of seniors stole the coveted 4th R video. This VHS tape was locked in the Chaplain’s office and played once a year. Annually, we would congregate together, armed with sweaters and friends to nap on while we snoozed away the boring instructional video. But, instead of hearing about the 4Rs—Reading, Writing, Arithmetic and Religion (the big surprise), imagery of a cartoon spoon complaining it was too big and Asian guys dancing around with bananas leaves flashed up on the screen. To an outsider it sounds stupid, but to you and every other Viking in the building, it was the best high school prank of all time #preach.
So how does Trendy Church fit into all of this? I’m getting there. As you will discover, you love to set up your stories. Plus, I want you to catalog your memories, so we are condensing your experience with religion with one big scoop/post.
So, anyways, one thing you will notice about LA is talking about religion is #nottrendy. Being religious (outside of using religion to get a free day out of work) is not widely discussed (at least in my experience).
Now, you aren’t a super religious person. Growing up, you’ll spend high holidays in temple. Your mother, a Christian by birth, but a Jew by choice (she converted), fully embraced both faiths. Latkes grace the table every year for Hanukkah and Christmas trees (yes, plural) cover every inch of your house during the holidays. My parents like chapel promoted an environment where you embrace religion for the cultural/moral reasons rather than a life strictly guided by text.
Something you’ll discover is that a life without exploring faith feels unsubstantial. I’m not preaching Judaism over Christianity or the other way around. But, I do think the pillars of all religion provide us with faith, faith in a bigger plan and more importantly a platform to discuss how we define morals and a way to reflect on our own actions. I want you to continue to explore and evolve this conversation as you continue to evolve as a person.
So, your sister will one day start talking about trendy church. Now, she doesn’t call it that, but you will forever call it #trendychurch. It was this new thing her and her actors friends were doing. Then I found out my co-worker was doing it. Then the following week at a work lunch, my business contact dropped it (it was this not so secret but kinda secret word-of-mouth thing.) So I had to know, what is this church-less church place. #Trendychurch is built outside the confines of church walls. The sermons take place inside the ballrooms of distinguished hotels. People of all faiths gather for a weekly service. As you can imagine, this is not your typical church. Every week, seats are filled with some of the most glamorous people you will see in your life. You could go for the people watching/trend alerts alone. It’s so LA but in the best way. In the sea of actors, successful entrepreneurs and fashion mavens, you’ll find one common thread, these people adorned with crosses and kippahs are looking for the same comfort you seek– a way to quietly reflect on life. Now, I am not telling you to convert and preach the gospel on the streets. Religion doesn’t need to be so extreme. But, trendy church, in all it’s glamorous glory, reminded you that it’s ok to think about faith, whatever that means to you. I think you should always live a life in faith. As you grow and evolve, how you define faith will change. But, I think all religions at the core provide us with tools to live life well, ways to cope with our mistakes and constantly challenge us to be the best version of ourselves.